It was a gritty blues-rock swagger that rocketed Royal Blood to fame with the release of their debut album in 2014. But it’s with a markedly different sound that they return to the stage—socially distanced and adequately sanitised, of course—in 2021. ‘Limbo’ is the third single the band have released in promotion of their upcoming album Typhoons, set for release on 30 April.
It continues the trend established by its two predecessors: jagged, pulsing hits of a gorgeously-produced bass-synth that growl beneath finely-tuned falsetto harmonies. Some of the vocal work and dance beats in this recent single might seem more befitting of a disco than a mosh pit, but ‘Limbo’ quickly dispels the idea that these styles even really need to be separated.
It’s impossible not to start nodding your head along to the powerful, hammering rhythms that ‘Limbo’ kicks off with. It’s got a tight hold on Royal Blood’s untameable rock energy, but with an exciting, glammy twist; cheeky, funky, and effortlessly stylish, this song isn’t just a great blend of two very visceral genres—it’s also just cool. There’s a provocative darkness in the lyrics: “I slept in a murder scene last night / Nobody move, nobody gets hurt,” sings vocalist Mike Kerr, in suave tones that conceal the menace in his words.
Unfortunately, ‘Limbo’ does drag a little. The chorus doesn’t quite match the sheer excitement that is built up by the verses—it’s a bit tamer, a bit cooler, a bit of a plateau when we really want an explosion. The whole thing is also a little longer than it needs to be. I find that songs characterised by these short, thumping bursts of rhythm work best when they are just that—short. But ‘Limbo’ is pushing five minutes, and relies quite heavily on repetition. Sustaining even the grooviest of hooks under these circumstances is a very tall order indeed.
But you can’t knock ‘em for trying. These problems are far from ruinous, and even if ‘Limbo’ isn’t a perfect track, it’s hard to deny it’s anything less than a pretty damn impressive one.
Words by Ed Brown
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